Lambrokouloura is a type of bread that is customarily made on Holy Thursday, and gifted to young people. It’s shaped into a ring (kouloura), to represent the cycle of life, when intended for a young woman and into a horseshoe, to represent good luck, if it is for a young man. Even though it’s made with ingredients that are suitable for Lent, it is not considered a Lenten dish as it is served on Easter Sunday, also known as the day of light, or “lambri”, from where it takes it’s name.
Mix all the ingredients, except the sesame, together in a blender and mix using the hook attachment until you have a smooth dough. Alternatively, knead by hand.
Shape the dough into a ball, dust lightly with flour, place in bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Set it aside in a warm dry spot to rest for around 40 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
Empty the dough onto a floured surface and split it in half.
Set aside around 1/3 of each ball for making the cross that adorns the bread, and roll out the rest into two thick ropes. Roll to coat well in sesame seeds.
Shape the ropes into rings of 30 cm each and use the pieces of dough set aside to fashion two crosses, one for each ring, by rolling out four strings and covering them in sesame also.
You can also adorn the rings with a red-dyed egg, either by impressing it into the dough, or by fashioning a small nest for it with dough and attaching it to the ring.
Another pretty design is to roll out the saved dough into thinner strings and braid them into crosses.
Once your rings are ready, place them on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Cover loosely in a piece of plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 40 minutes, or until they double in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake the rings separately for 50-55 minutes.
When they’re ready, lightly brush them with water to lighten their color a bit. Don’t worry about them becoming soggy, as the heat immediately evaporates the water.
Ingredients (for 2 bread rings)
700 g bread flour
300 g tsoureki flour (extra strong white bread flour with a high-gluten/protein content)
15 g salt
20 g fresh yeast, crumbled
600 ml water
Sesame for sprinkling
AN INTERESTING STORY
The great battle of the flour mills
Ibrahim Pasha’s army marched into Mylos, a village south of Argos near Lake Lerna, at dawn on 13 June 1825, intent on securing a stronghold that would help them take the nearby city of Nafplio. But Dimitrios Ypsilantis, generals Ioannis Makriyiannis and Petros Mavromichalis and 480 men lay in wait, hunkered down among the storage sheds packed with flour and grain used to supply the Greek revolutionary army of General Theodoros Kolokotronis. Behind them stood the main mill and stone tower on the lake. They fought bravely and managed to push out Ibrahim’s army, scoring the first big victory for the Greeks after a series of defeats. The story has gone down as the Battle of Mylos after the village where it took place, which, in turn, was named after its mills.
Originally published in Gastronomos magazine.